Browns release Brian Robiske

The Cleveland Browns released Brian Robiskie yesterday when they needed a roster spot for another running back after injuries to Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.

Many of us were rooting for Robiskie since the Browns drafted him out of Ohio State. That said, Eric Mangini and George Kokinis were crazy to draft him at the top of the second round in their disastrous 2009 draft.

Fortunately for Robiskie, the Jaguars just claimed him off waivers so at least he’s getting another shot.

I think he can be a good possession receiver, but he just couldn’t get separation from most corners.

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Browns sign free agent Brandon Jackson

Green Bay Packers running back Brandon Jackson (R) scores a touchdown in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Joselio Hanson in the third quarter during their NFC Wild Card NFL playoff football game in Philadelphia, January 9, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Browns needed a third down back, and they got one in Brandon Jackson. Tom Heckert is signing role players that fit their system, as opposed to going after big name players.

Jackson is an excellent blocker in passing situations and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’ll help take some of the pressure off of Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.

What I like best is that he comes from Green Bay, where they play the West Coast offense better than anyone these days. He fits the system.

Peyton Hillis and his impact on the power running game and the passing game

CLEVELAND - AUGUST 21:  Peyton Hillis  of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball through the St. Louis Rams defense at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

We saw some sloppy play the other night when the Cleveland Browns faced the St. Louis Rams, but we also saw more good signs heading into the new season.

It was a joy watching Peyton Hillis play. He’s the kind of blue-collar player that can make this team more physical so we get back to Browns football. He’s a tough runner who is hard to bring down, and he showed that on Saturday night as he punished the Rams in the running game. On one play it took practically the entire defense to bring him to a stop, and they were lucky the refs blew the whistle as Hillis broke free again at the end of the run.

Hillis is also an excellent receiver, which gives the Browns more options in the passing game. We know Jerome Harrison can be explosive catching the ball out of the backfield, and we’re seeing that Hillis can be very effective as well. This can be a huge plus in games when the Browns are facing a tough pass rush. Hillis is a big back who can help on pass protection in games where Harrison is having trouble picking up blitzes.

Finally, we haven’t even seen Montario Hardesty yet. With Hillis, Harrison, and then Lawrence Vickers opening up holes, the running backs suddenly look like a strength on this team.

Here’s another photo of Hillis. It will be nice to see him pounding the Steelers and Ravens defenses.

CLEVELAND - AUGUST 21: Peyton Hillis  of the Cleveland Browns celebrates with Robert Royal  after a run against the St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 21, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Browns look like a real team again

GREEN BAY - AUGUST 14: Jake Delhomme  of the Cleveland Browns calls out a play during the NFL preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field August 14, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

It’s only one preseason game, but watching the Cleveland Browns last night against the Green Bay Packers, a Super Bowl favorite, had to make Browns fans feel better for a change.

What we saw was a team that belonged on the field with their opponent. We also saw a team that had two NFL quarterbacks. Jake Delhomme looked like a solid veteran, and Seneca Wallace looked like a potential weapon at that position. We don’t have to hold our breath any more and hope that Brady Quinn can hit a wide open receiver or that Derek Anderson can stop throwing the ball right in the hands of defensive backs.

We still don’t know how good this offense can be, but we do know that they probably won’t looked like a bunch of over-matched amateurs when trying to throw the ball. Mike Holmgren realized that a change needed to be made, and I suspect that Eric Mangini was all for a change as well.

The running game also didn’t miss a beat. It was a joy to watch the Browns pound in that first touchdown from the four yard line. Lawrence Vickers is a beast at fullback, and Jerome Harrison showed again that he can gain tough yardage. With a solid running game, Delhomme should be able to have a solid season. Also, we didn’t even see the Wildcat last night and Josh Cribbs didn’t touch the ball!

Peyton Hillis showed that we now have several weapons coming out of the backfield. This kid is a great receiver, and I loved seeing the screen pass. We haven’t even seen Montario Hardesty yet.

The defense could stop one of the best offenses in the league, so let’s hope they play better against more typical NFL offenses. That said, the young DBs looked pretty good. T.J. Ward looks like a real player, even with some of the mistakes. Joe Haden looked solid, and we saw a glimpse of his athletic ability and speed on the kickoff return.

Bottom line – the Browns looked like a team that can play with the better teams in this league. Let’s see how they do next week at home against the St. Louis Rams, a team that seems to be starting over.

Montario Hardesty looks great so far . . .

Photo from fOTOGLIF

The impressions of Montario Hardesty have been very positive so far through the OTAs. Tony Grossi likes him and other writers seem to be impressed as well. I was thrilled when the Browns drafted this guy as I saw him play several times while he was a Tennessee and he looked like an NFL back. He has size and speed. He’s also saying all the right things.

Hardesty was a captain at Tennessee. The way he handled the responsibility appealed to everyone in the Browns draft room.

“When the Cleveland Browns came up to get me, I was excited,” Hardesty said. “This has been my dream since I was young. I really couldn’t wait to get here. I don’t want to let Mr. (Tom) Heckert or Coach (Mike) Holmgren or Coach Mangini down.”

Hardesty may have to share a little or a lot with fifth-year Brown Jerome Harrison. He laughs off being able to handle a small load, if that becomes his portion.

“I was in both situations at Tennessee,” he said. “Three carries … 25 carries. Either way, I want to maximize my opportunities.”

If the Browns get lucky, Hardesty will give them almost as strong an inside threat as Greene gives the Jets, and deliver a much bigger outside threat than Green can.

Hardesty has caught on quickly to what Mangini wants the offense to become, a “game-plan-specific” attack that changes every week. Both he and the team see him as having the potential to fit any plan.

The shifty little Harrison provides an outside threat, but Hardesty might, too, in a more threatening body.

“We were a zone-running team last year (at Tennessee),” Hardesty said. “That was our bread and butter.

If the Browns can keep making progress on the running game, it will help the passing game and the defense. I like this approach.

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